Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Germany
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII.  1876–79.
 
Eylau
The Battle of Eylau
Isaac McLellan (1806–1899)
 
          Fought in Prussian Poland, between the allied Prussian and Russian armies, against the French, under Napoleon, February, 1807. “Never was a spectacle so dreadful as the field of battle presented on the following morning. Above fifty thousand men lay, in the space of two leagues, weltering in blood. The wounds were, for the most part, of the severest kind, from the extraordinary quantity of cannon-balls which had been discharged during the action, and the close proximity of the contending masses to the deadly batteries, which spread grape at half-musket-shot through the ranks.”—Alison’s Europe.

FAST and furious falls the snow;
Shrilly the bleak tempests blow,
With a sound of wailing woe,
        O’er the soil;
Where the watch-fires blaze around,        5
Thick the warriors strew the ground,
Each in weary slumber bound,
        Worn with toil.
 
Hearken to the cannon-blast!
Drums are beating fierce and fast:        10
Fierce and fast the trumpets cast
        Warning call.
Form the battle’s stern parade,
Charge the musket, draw the blade;
Square and column stand arrayed,        15
        One and all.
 
On they rush in stern career,
Dragoon and swart cuirassier;
Hussar-lance and Cossack-spear
        Clanging meet!        20
Now the grenadier of France
Sinks beneath the Imperial lance;
Now the Prussian horse advance,
        Now retreat.
 
Davoust, with his line of steel,        25
Storms their squadrons till they reel,
While his ceaseless cannon-peal
        Rends the sky.
’Gainst that crush of iron hail
Naught may Russia’s ranks avail;        30
Like the torn leaves in the gale,
        See, they fly!
 
Through the battle’s smoky gloom
Shineth Murat’s snowy plume:
Fast his cohorts to their doom        35
        Spur the way.
Platoff, with his desert horde,
Is upon them with the sword;
Deep his Tartar-spears have gored
        Their array.        40
 
With his thousands, Augereau
Paints with blood the virgin snow:
Low in war’s red overthrow
        Sleep they on!
Helm and breastplate they have lost,        45
Spoils that long shall be the boast
Of the savage-bearded host
        Of the Don.
 
Charge, Napoleon! Where be those
At Marengo quelled thy foes;        50
Crowning thee at Jena’s close
        Conqueror?
At this hour of deadly need
Faintly thy old guardsmen bleed;
Vain dies cuirassier and steed,        55
        Drenched with gore.
*        *        *        *        *
Sad the frosty moonbeam shone
O’er the snows with corses strown,
Where the frightful shriek and groan
        Rose amain:        60
Loud the night-wind rang their knell;
Fast the flaky horrors fell,
Hiding in their snowy cell
        Heaps of slain!
 
Many a year hath passed and fled        65
O’er that harvest of the dead:
On thy rock the Chief hath sped,
        St. Helene!
Still the Polish peasant shows
The round hillocks of the foes,        70
Where the long grass rankly grows,
        Darkly green.
 
 
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